CAO handbooks for 2011 due shortly
CAO's handbooks for 2011 will be available in schools shortly, and Leaving Certificate students will soon be poring over what will be their 'bible' of college application procedures.
It is all new information for them. One of the big changes in this year's handbook is that UCD has changed all its course codes and has reduced its number of entry codes from 79 to 62.
Q Does this mean that UCD is offering fewer courses?
A No. It just means the applicants have greater flexibility and choice. Where course codes have been reduced, the course options are all still there, but students do not need to make their choices at the time of application.
Take science, for example, where last year UCD offered about 10 entry codes. This year, applicants will be offered the choice of applying to Science under one code DN200. The handbook shows that science courses are categorised under three different groupings, biological, biomedical and biomolecular sciences (BBB), chemistry and chemical sciences (CCS), and mathematical and physical sciences (MPS).
If applicants do not know which area they want to study, they simply enter DN200. If they know which area they want to study, they can select that area from the groupings, and list it, for example DN200 BBB, and be guaranteed a place in a degree programme within this area, They may change from their selected area of study after entry if they wish to. Joint degrees are available between certain combinations.
Meanwhile, the third-level 'open-day' cycle starts up around now. Open days come on stream at the rate of four or five a week in the busiest open day season, which is around October/November.
The number of events is so extensive that schools and guidance counsellors need to have all dates well in advance so they may integrate them into the school timetable.
All colleges must work to attract students. They all devote considerable time and energy to schools-liaison programmes, through visits to schools, open days on their own campuses, special information sessions for mature applicants, open days dedicated to particular faculties, and other events
Q I am doing my Leaving Cert next June, and I am wondering how important it is to attend college open days. I have a busy study schedule and just wonder is attending open days a waste of time?
AIt is not a waste of time. You should certainly attend some open days, at least for the couple of colleges that most interest you. Visiting a college, getting a feel for the campus, listening to talks, and talking directly to lecturers are important elements in helping you narrow down your third-level course choice.
Many open days are aimed at fifth-year students as well, and it is unusual that a sixth-year student would not have attended any open days so far. But many sixth-year students will return to a particular open day, just to confirm their choices, or find out more about particular courses.
Obviously, you will not need to go to every open day. That would, indeed, be a waste of your time, and could distract you from your study.
Open days this coming weekend. NUI Galway: Friday 1 October (9am -- 3pm) and Saturday 2 October (10am -- 3pm).